Dark Skies at Night, Jasper a Delight: Alberta mountain town chases the stars with 10th annual Dark Sky Festival

When the stars come out at night — you want to see them.

And too often you can’t make out the celestial bodies when you’re in the city, the street lights shining out the Milky Way. Luckily, with our blessed geographical location, heading out into the country or the mountains to appreciate their incandescent glow is always an option.

Especially if you want to take what is without a doubt one of the prettiest drives in this country — from Calgary to Jasper — this week to enjoy that majestic mountain town’s annual Dark Sky Festival, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

From Oct. 16 to 25, the gorgeous provincial jewel will once again become the world’s second largest accessible dark sky preserve with much to do and, especially, see.

“It’s our ten-year anniversary, and I’m so pleased we can offer festival-goers such an exciting program,” science journalist Niki Wilson, Jasper’s Dark Sky Festival host, said in a release. 

“Jasper National Park is a special place where it’s actually dark enough to see the Milky Way, or glimpse the aurora. These are important experiences for many people. I’m glad we can provide an opportunity to celebrate them.”

Throughout the week, there will be activities that visitors to the park can participate in and experience — in a new, physically distanced way that adheres to COVID protocol, of course. 

The program includes a pair of headlining events: one featuring astronauts Robert Thirsk and Nicole Stott, who “will share their personal experiences aboard the 2009 mission on the International Space Station, and speculate on the future of space exploration”; and another features Rob Meyerson, founder and CEO of Delalune Space, along with NASA engineer, Adam Stelzner, who will talk about “why we should go to Mars, and what it will take to get there.”

Other festival highlights, according to the release, include: “Stars and Smoke at Maligne Canyon, a two-course dinner followed by the opportunity to peek at the galaxy through some of the Canadian Rockies’ biggest telescopes; morning keynotes by Torah Kachur, science columnist at CBC, and Dr. Shawna Pandya, citizen-scientist astronaut candidate …; Symphony Under the Sun, Peak-Nic Under the Stars, and a family-friendly Animals of the Night Hike …; an After Dark Trivia Night, hosted by Canadian television personality Alan Nursall.”

And for the star watchers who can’t quite get enough, the Jasper Planetarium will also be hosting several events throughout the entire month of October.

To find more information on Jasper’s Dark Sky Festival, please go to